On Saturday 5 June, a group of WWII veterans were invited to enjoy an afternoon on the Normandy Flyer steam train on the Battlefield Line in Leicestershire.
The WWII veterans were driven to the Battlefield Line in London black cabs driven by Taxi Charity volunteers. The veterans enjoyed a ride on a steam train which had been renamed the Normandy Flyer for this special visit.
The Normandy Flyer left Shackerstone station at 12:30pm on 5 June, in glorious sunshine, and travelled via Market Bosworth before arriving at Shenton. The volunteer cabbies, the veterans and their carers all enjoyed a fabulous picnic on the return journey to Shackerstone.
The visit was particularly poignant as the line had been used to transport fuel for the D-Day invasion in 1944.
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity, said: "The Taxi Charity had been invited to take WWII veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum on 6 June to watch the opening of the British Normandy Memorial; when we heard about the Battlefield Line, we decided to make a weekend of it. Our volunteer cabbies brought veterans from all over the southeast and we were joined by a veteran from Kenilworth and a group of veterans from Preston. The volunteers who run the Battlefield Line really looked after us and ensured everything was spotlessly clean and that we were able to adhere to social distance guidelines. I am sure the volunteers who run the Battlefield Line enjoyed the veterans’ visit as much our veterans did."
101-year-old WWII veteran, Major Ted Hunt, said: "What a fabulous day. The sound of the steam train brought back so many lovely memories for us all. We are so lucky to be part of the Taxi Charity family and we have an amazing group of volunteer London cabbies who always look after us veterans so well. It’s been a difficult 15 months with all the pandemic restrictions, so to be out enjoying ourselves with our fellow veterans was just what we all needed."
On the following day, 6 June, the 77th anniversary of D-Day, the Taxi Charity volunteer cab drivers took the veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum to watch the opening of the British Normandy Memorial.
About The Battlefield Line
The Battlefield Line is the last remaining part of the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway which was opened in 1873. It runs from Shackerstone via Market Bosworth to Shenton in Leicestershire and is operated by the Shackerstone Railway Society.
Shackerstone Station is at the northern end of the line, and is the headquarters of the railway with museum, Victorian tea room, souvenir shop, loco shed and main rolling stock located here.
There is ample free parking, and the Ashby Canal is just a stone’s throw away.